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Metra Seeks To Remedy On-Time Performance Slip

Metra locomotive (CBS File Photo)

Metra locomotive (CBS File Photo)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — For years, signs at Metra stations along Chicago-area expressways have taunted motorists by asking, “We’re on time. Are you?”

But last year its on-time performance has slipped, and the commuter rail agency’s chairman, chief executive officer and board want something done about it.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bob Roberts reports

As WBBM Newsradio’s Bob Roberts reports, on-time numbers tumbled last summer, when CEO Alex Clifford ordered a change in the way the agency determines the on-time performance of trains, by including trains delayed by construction for the first time.

“By removing that, you saw that instantaneously our on-time performance dropped,” Clifford said.

Under the old system, Metra routinely posted on-time performance of 95 to 98 percent. Although Clifford says comparing the old numbers and new numbers is a comparison of apples and oranges, he and acting Metra Chairman Larry Huggins told WBBM Newsradio that they both want to see the figures back at 95 percent — even with construction delays figured in.

“What we’ve got to do is get that number back up,” Huggins said. “That is the only thing I see that we need to improve on.”

Huggins said riders expect it, and Clifford predicted that the commuter rail agency will get back to 95 percent on-time performance even with what he terms a “more accurate baseline.”

Metra runs more than 700 commuter trains on 11 lines each weekday.